Archive for: March 2015

Southern Hospitality: How Austin’s Quirky Community is Moving South

By Corynn Wilson, Samantha Badgen, Tessa Meriwether, Britny Eubank & Brittanie Burke

A busy night at Moontower Saloon doesn’t feel too far removed from a small-town keg party. You drive up a dirt path, where a man shines a flashlight in your car, checking IDs. You keep moving on back to the vast parking lot that is really just a large plot of dirt. And then, on foot, you work your way back to the bar, where people are everywhere, leaning over pool tables and crowded around fire pits. A few play washers over by the outdoor bathrooms that are fashioned to look like outhouses, but are actually quite clean. It’s a little too cold for sand volleyball, but the option’s there if you want it.

Customers socializing and drinking at Moontower Saloon in South Austin on Thursday, March 5, 2015. (Photo/Tessa Meriwether)

Customers socializing and drinking at Moontower Saloon in South Austin on Thursday, March 5, 2015. (Photo/Tessa Meriwether)

It seems like a nice place to hang out with friends, even if they’re friends you don’t know yet. Like regular customer Sal Bartone said: “You get a lot of good people out here and a lot of good times. So, it’s not just for people to drink the alcohol or whatever–it’s just a community group and just having people together.”

Moontower manager, Eddie Erdwurm, elaborated.

“I call it a ‘rustic neighborhood bar,’” said Erdwurm. “Really, we’re just a neighborhood bar on steroids.”

It isn’t just Moontower that gives off this neighborhood vibe, either. It’s South Austin as a whole. The scene in this part of the city is slowly, but surely, expanding, based largely on its community feel. But also because it seems to encompass something that other parts of Austin may have lost.

People say it all the time: Austin has changed. It “isn’t what it used to be.” Numerically and practically, they aren’t wrong. Austin had a 12 percent population increase in just the three years between 2010 and 2013, and then it grew by more than 22,000 people in the following year. According to an article from the Austin Business Journal published in 2014, a net amount of 110 people move to Austin every day. And the changes don’t stop with the population growth. To accommodate all of these people, the city is constantly tearing down buildings and homes to build new residences, hotels, and businesses. To go to downtown Austin’s website’s “emerging projects” page is to find a list of 46 projects either planned or already underway. The changes are constant and unyielding.

(Interactive Map/Tessa Meriwether)

Multiple attempts to contact city council members for comment on Austin’s changes were made, but no answers were received.

With these changes comes a cultural problem. Austin has long been known as a place that prides itself on individuality, on being “weird.” And this metropolitanization of the bulk of the city has made many wonder if Austin can keep its quirky cred. Some establishments, like Maria’s Taco Xpress on Lamar and the Cathedral of Junk on Lareina are keeping the weird alive, but there is a tension between the quickly growing city and its long-standing reputation.

The iconic Keep Austin Weird shirts at Tyler's on Tuesday, March 10, 2015. (Photo/Brittanie Burke)

The iconic Keep Austin Weird shirts at Tyler’s on Tuesday, March 10, 2015. (Photo/Brittanie Burke)

Al Billings, a musician and longtime resident of Austin, is one person who thinks the city is losing its weirdness.

“I think it’s getting more smoothed out,” Billings said, of Austin’s “weird” culture. He added that even the music scene today is different: “The music’s not local anymore…The sound’s all the same, the compression’s all the same.”

Billings remembers the way Austin was twenty years ago, before the massive population increase.

“In those days, there was no crime in downtown Austin. Zero. And so I could walk all the way from down at Riverside and Congress all the way down to 5th Street, without ever being bothered by anybody,” said Billings. “Walk up and down the streets and see everybody playing music. Everybody. Stevie Ray Vaughn would be in there, his band [Double Trouble] would be in there…Everybody was on the street, everybody was there, and they were playing.”

While the city is still known for its music, Austin as Billings describes it is not the Austin of today. But, according to residents of South Austin, their neighborhood is where long-time Austinites have found a less hectic, more nostalgic vibe.

“All the Austinites have decided to move even more south, because downtown is just crazy, so they settled on this place,” said Erdwurm. “The ones who’ve been around for a while, they don’t like dealing with the yuppies on the West side, the hipsters on the East side. North just doesn’t seem to have that character that South Austin has. Nobody likes to deal with downtown traffic. So, I think that’s why they moved down here.”

And the emphasis on community and shared experience mentioned previously also adds to South Austin’s charm.

“I was born and raised here,” said Kara Jo Sanders, another Moontower Saloon regular. “If I go to Central Austin or I go to North Austin, and I sit there and ask somebody where they’re from, they can’t tell me they were born and raised here. I feel like I’m in Africa when I go to North Austin or Central Austin because they don’t even know anything about Austin. If you come South, everybody knows everybody here. We’re Austinites. This is our ground.”

Bartone agreed.

“The people here are more friendly, they’re more open. They feel like more family. Like, when you go up north, it’s more–I don’t know–it’s more snobbiness and how much money you make and everything else,” said Bartone. “And down South Austin, it’s just family.”

Erdwurm agreed as well, saying it is the people that make South Austin establishments like Moontower what they are.

“What makes this bar is not just the place but the people that come here,” said Erdwurm. “Our regulars are incredible, they’re just laid back people and they range. Our oldest, I think, is 86, and he’s here a lot. All the way down to 21 and everything in between. Every lifestyle and age you can think [of]. So, it’s pretty much crossing paths.”

It remains to be seen just how much Austin’s rapid growth will continue to change its culture and communities. But in the meantime, the South is doing its part to keep Austin weird.

By Britny Eubank

SXSW Security & Safety Plan 2015


AUSTIN – As people flood downtown for South by Southwest, from March 13 through the 22, last year’s fatal crash will be on the minds of venues, authorities and companies collaborating to create an exciting and relaxed atmosphere in downtown Austin.

The Austin Police Department is bringing all the equipment and personnel it can to maintain a safe environment for the music and film festival. During a Public Safety Commission meeting on Jan. Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 9.56.18 PM5, Assistant Chief Jason Dusterhoft outlined the festival’s safety strategies including traffic response forces, stro nger barricades and a 15 percent increase in officers downtown. He said the goal is to have more cohesiveness and communication among the different participants.

“We will have issues,” Chief Dusterhoft said, “But we hope to be able to respond to them more quickly.”

Commander of Special Events Tim Pruett, later said that there are rules and application processes venues have to follow. Lines can only be held for a certain amount of time, and they cannot block sidewalks, entrances, or exits out of parking lots. Venues are required to have people working the lines, he said.


Click HERE for the whole story.

Beef prices on the moo-ve – How Austin businesses keep up

An Iron Works Barbeque chef cuts through their brisket.

Thanks in part to the long drought that has engulfed Texas, rising beef prices have left consumers in a state of sticker shock.

But despite the 60 percent price increase for a pound of brisket—from $2.21 to $3.52—some Austin businesses are resisting the temptation to charge their customers more for what is becoming a very valuable morsel of meat.

From farm to plate, raising cattle and selling it has become a less profitable endeavor for almost everyone in the state that is the country’s leading cattle producer each year. Just ask Rob Cunningham, the owner of Coyote Creek Farm, a certified organic farm just east of Austin.

“In 2011, when the drought was at its worst, it affected us in that we had 32 or 35 head [of cattle] at the time, and we sold down to 12,” Cunningham said. “The reason we did that was because we didn’t have the grass. If we had millions and millions of dollars in the bank, we would have just bought hay.”

2015 was the first year in which the overall Texas cattle herd increased after eight straight years of drastic decline. The state finally received a normal amount of rain in 2014, which helped grow more grass for the cattle to feed on. But no one is out of the woods yet. The USDA deemed 156 Texas counties disaster areas last month, thanks to the drought.

The pressure to fall in line with the new business model of charging more for cattle was intense, but Cunningham and his family never really in the cards.

“We haven’t changed our price of beef in three years,” Cunningham said. “Cattle prices are really high right now, but I have been able to maintain my price for our grass-fed beef.”

The loyalty of his customers helped make the decision easier.

“Our customers got a really good deal when they buy grass-fed beef from us,” Cunningham said. “About 80 percent of my business is repeat customers. They know our farm. They know our animals and how they’re raised. They enjoy the taste of our beef.”

But while this behind-the-scenes drama plays out on farms across the state, others are only concerned with how hard it is to put beef on the table.

Aaron Morris, the owner of Iron Works BBQ in downtown Austin, said that his customers have certainly felt the financial food struggle caused by the cattle shortage.

“Well, everybody has to eat, BBQ is a great pastime, and so I don’t see that it has affected our business so much as it’s affected maybe what people are able to eat, unfortunately,” Morris said.

Knowing that his customers’ wallets are straining to cover what they typically enjoy, Morris, like Cunningham, has decided against hiking up prices.

“We haven’t passed the price along too much to our customers,” Morris said. “We’ve seen a doubling in our costs but we can’t really double our price, so it’s affected our business in that it has made our margins tighter.”

Those tighter margins apparently extend into Morris’ very own home.

“In our house and with my family, we have kind of switched ourselves to more pork just because beef prices are not just more expensive for us as a restaurant, but if you go to the store yourself, you’ll see that our beef prices are up dramatically from where they were a couple years ago,” Morris said.

Switching to pork hasn’t been all bad, though. At the very least, it’s given Morris more creative license in his cooking and introduced a new menu item to Iron Works.

“We have been cooking a lot of pork at home, and we decided to introduce that at the restaurant a couple of months ago,” Morris said. “We now do pulled pork, which is a product that has been very well-received, and we added it strictly because the price of beef is so high.”

All it would take to make everything right in this beef-crazy little part of the world is a little more rain.

“For the success of BBQ, we need the drought to let up and we need as many cattle out there in America as possible,” Morris said.

Behind the Pink Gloves

by Alyssa Brant, Sylvia Butanda, Kimberly Carmona and Rebecca Salazar

Brenda Porta, owner of Pink Gloves Boxing Gym Austin and lead boxing trainer, instructs her Tier 6 group on elements such as footwork, punch combinations and overall technique during their 6 a.m. training session. Photo by Rebecca Salazar

The gloves may be pink, but don’t be fooled. These ladies can punch.

After six years as a high school teacher in Austin, gym owner Brenda Porta needed a change. Having boxed as a hobby in the past, she became very interested when she heard of a training camp that taught how to run a boxing gym. Soon after being certified, Porta opened the first Pink Gloves Boxing (PGB) in the Austin area in April 2013.

“The next thing I knew I was opening and teaching my first class,” Porta said. “It all just happened so fast.”

Pink Gloves Austin is one of 23 gyms in a national chain. Originally starting in Montana, the company has now expanded throughout the country, as well as three locations in Sweden. However, all locations have a similar goal of empowering women through teamwork.

“This gym is different because we all know each other,” Porta said. “We’re all learning something together, so we’re all messing up together and we’re all fixing it together.”

Women from all fitness levels and ages are encouraged to join the PGB family. Lea Nyfeler, a member of the advanced class, joined PGB two years ago as a stress reliever, but the benefits she has gained have far surpassed that.

“I needed a change up, something that would challenge me in a different way, make me feel good about myself and give me some very distinct measures to show improvement,” Nyfeler said. “Pink Gloves did all that.”

PGB is an all women’s boxing fitness program that works in levels called tiers. Women start in tier one where they learn basic boxing technique. After four months, or about 30 classes, the women attempt to test out. If they pass, they move onto the next tier.

 Eve Richter has lost more than 170 pounds in the two years that she has been with Pink Gloves.

Eve Richter has lost more than 170 pounds in the two years that she has been with Pink Gloves. Photo by Rebecca Salazar

“A lot of boxing is mind work,” Nyfeler said. “You saw what we were doing. We were switching from right handed to left handed, the number combinations, the movements, putting it together on the fly, working with a partner that’s all very complex. It’s a whole different level of exercise.”

Fellow advanced class member Eve Richter had different goals when she came to PGB.

“This was the first exercise that I didn’t despise and stuck with,” Richter said.

After losing 170 pounds in the past two years, Richter accredits much of her success to PGB.

“Fitness has become an addiction and a way of life,” Richter said. “It would be hard to imagine not coming here.”

In addition to changing women’s lives through fitness, Porta also found a way to make a difference in the community through their annual Punch-A-Thon, which was started last year. Members of the gym as well as people in the community are encouraged to form teams in order to raise money for the Seton Breast Care Center. PGB will be holding their second annual Punch-A-Thon in April, and their goal is to reach $10,000.


Along with servicing the community, Porta says one the greatest benefits she has experienced though her job is watching women walk into the gym and leave as a completely different person.

“That’s just the most rewarding thing that I can give them; friendships, strength and just a different way to look at life,” Porta said.

Pink Gloves Boxing – Austin
9705 Burnet Rd #606
Austin, TX 78758

Austin Beerworks: One big drunk family

By: Mikhaela Locklear, Melanie Price, Jonathan Garza and Cooper Haynie

Austin Beerworks owners Michael Graham (far left), Adam Debower, Mike McGovern and Will Golden started ABW in 2011.

Austin Beerworks owners Michael Graham (far left), Adam Debower, Mike McGovern and Will Golden started ABW in 2011.

AUSTIN – Nestled among rows of industrial buildings in North Austin, is a local hidden treasure belonging to four craftsmen, but rest assured, they generously share their riches.

Austin Beerworks is an owner-operated craft brewery deep in the heart of Texas that originated from four beer and business geniuses. The owners, Adam Debower, Will Golden, Michael Graham and Mike McGovern come with a variety of backgrounds but teamed up to do what men do best, beer.

The four men had backgrounds in Texas, business and beer and formed the perfect combination, Graham said.

It takes more than just the original four to produce the quality and quantity that ABW has grown to produce, which is where the rest of the crew comes in. ABW staff includes a team of “beer workers” from management and brewers to bartenders and Immortal Sex Gods, you’ll have to check out their biographies for that last one.

“We hire personalities, you can train people how to brew beer,” Graham said.

It is quite possible ABW has more personality than beer.

“It’s like a big drunk family,” said Kyle Shutt, bartender.

In August 2014, ABW unveiled a 99-pack of their Peacemaker Anytime Ale, according to The New York Daily News. All 20 of the 7-foot-long 99-packs were sold out the same day they were introduced, which started a major social media discussion and put ABW on the map nationwide.

ABW is a testament to Austin’s booming craft-beer brewing community.

“The beer scene in Austin has really exploded in the past three to five years,” said Michael Graham, co-owner of ABW.

And that it has. Several years ago a map of breweries in the Central Texas area might have shown one sole suggestion: Shiner. However, craft beer breweries have sprouted throughout the greater Austin area.

While the ABW craftsmen work long weeks supplying thirsty Texans with their liquid gold, they don’t stop at just the brewing. They can, package and deliver their masterpieces to stores and restaurants. However, ABW brews can’t be found far from Central Texas, making it all the more magical.

What would anyone want to do after a day full of manual labor besides drink a beer (or 6) and relax with some of Austin’s finest? That’s just what happens, when production ends the party starts.

Tasting Room

serve beer4

Bartender Katie Newman shares a quick laugh with her fellow employee, Jody, as she pours a customer’s drink.

In order to share the genius these craftsmen create daily, the brewery transforms into a tasting room Thursday – Sunday evenings (check times) welcoming beer connoisseurs to come experience the magic they create.

Not only can you sample and learn about the brews, but you can do so alongside those who brewed them, ask questions and get to know the short but huge history behind the inevitably expanding company.

The brewery can be difficult to find for an average passerby, which is why many people only know about ABW via word of mouth, Shutt said.


On weekend afternoons, the brewery becomes a tasting room for hundreds of people to visit, drink a few beers and socialize with friends.

Currently, all it takes is $10 to down three pints and take home the signature ABW glass. (Experts tip: after the multiple visits you are likely to have, bring back five glasses for a trophy to honor your dedication and liver) 

Each afternoon and evening the tasting room is open, a local food truck is on site offering some grub to accompany the Pearl Snap Pilsner or Fire Eagle IPA. The trucks change, but often times ABW shares updates on whats to be expected. 

Austin Beerworks is located at 3009 Industrial Terrace Austin, TX 78758.

ABW: Signature Brews

Austin Beerworks Core Four brews are brewed year-round and are the center of the success ABW is today.

Austin Beerworks Core Four beers are brewed year-round and are the root of the success ABW is today. (Courtesy of ABW)

Fire Eagle IPA, Black Thunder German Style Shwarz, Pearl-Snap German Style Pils and Peacemaker Anytime Ale make up what ABW refers to as the “Core Four.”

As they say, “It’s all about having a strong core.” What sets ABW apart from many breweries is the can. “Beer always tastes better out of a keg, right? Think of our cans as tiny kegs,” the ABW website cleverly states.

In reality though, cans keep the beer colder and are more friendly on the environment. Similarly, the 6-packs are attached by a recycled reusable plastic top.

ABW gets regular and free advertising on social media by its loyal loving fans. Some begging for Peacemaker in stores nearby and others raving about their evening spent in an industrial park with a room full of booze.



Photos by: Jonathan Garza & Mikhaela Locklear

Drag Shows Illuminate Oilcan Harry’s

Spectators look on as Mrs. Kasha Davis takes the stage

Spectators look on as Mrs. Kasha Davis takes the stage


By: Julianne Staine, Hymi Ashenafi, Jessica Barrera and Stacie Richard

Stripper circus. Drag show roulette. Private parties. Oilcan Harry’s has it all.

Located in the warehouse district of downtown Austin, Oilcan Harry’s has served as one of Austin’s premier gay clubs for more than 20 years.

Established in 1990, the club has long since featured dancing, karaoke and drag queen contests. The club also offers customers the option of hosting private parties, whether it’s for meetings, birthdays or other celebrations.

In 2007, Oilcan Harry’s was named one of the 50 greatest gay bars in the world by OUT Magazine.

Dane Smith, the general manager of Oilcan Harry’s, believes that the club’s commitment to the community is what contributed to its success.

“We constantly strive to give back to all of the local organizations as well as provide a safe and fun atmosphere for people to enjoy,” Smith said. “I believe it’s our commitment to the community that keeps us going.”

Local universities, namely Austin Community College, St. Edwards and the University of Texas, make for a young, lively crowd at Oilcan Harry’s.

The club is busiest Thursday through Sunday, but during major city events, it can get particularly wild.

With South by Southwest coming up, Smith said Oilcan Harry’s is making preparations to help appeal to both regulars and out of town visitors.

“We here at Oilcan Harry’s are proud to present an LGBT musical showcase by the name of The Republic, featuring artists from the gay community,” Smith said. “It brings in artists from around the country and sometimes the world who perform every single type of musical genre. This helps us appeal to all realms of people.”

Aside from entertainment, Oilcan Harry’s has numerous charity events and fundraisers. Each year, the club hosts Red Hot, which is a summer event that raises money for Project Transitions.

Project Transitions is an organization dedicated to serving people with AIDS by
providing them with hospice and housing. The organization has been serving Central Texas since 1989.

Through the hosting of Red Hot, Oilcan Harry’s helped raise $16,500 for Project
Transitions in 2014 and $12,000 the year before that.

“This year marks the 24th anniversary of this amazing fundraiser that includes a massive silent auction, entertainment, delicious food and beverages and a live auction to end the evening,” Smith said. “This is just one of the many events Oilcan Harry’s is not only proud to help with, but also to host.”




Rising to the 26.2 mile challenge


Westside Elementary students gather around to listen to words of encouragement from Marathon Kids representatives.


By: Jessica Garcia, Erin Spencer, Raisa Tillis

Austin, TX- Westside Elementary students pull on their coats as they meander out into the brisk winter weather on a Friday morning, each of them ready to take on their final laps of a 26.2 mile marathon.

For 19 years, Marathon Kids has been promoting healthy lifestyles to kids from across the United States. In Austin, there are currently 238 schools involved in the program. Marathon Kids and school districts work together in the hopes of encouraging student to think of healthy eating and exercise as a normal part of life rather than an irregular occurrence.

Last weekend, Marathon Kids representatives visited Westside Elementary to rally students to meet their weekly running goal, and mark their progress on their mileage completion sheets.


Marathon Kids participants receive their medals after completing their goal of 26.2 miles.


“In our flagship school based program the 26.2 mile challenge is being take on by 8,500 kids here in the Austin area alone. There are tons and tons of kids who are running more than one marathon and they’re doing it a quarter, a half, or a whole mile at a time,” said William Dyson, director of Grassroots Engagement.

Throughout the school year events are held to incentivize students to follow through with the program. On Tuesday, Austin area Whole Foods Markets partnered up with Marathon Kids by donating 5% of all net sales that day to the organization.

Marathon Kids participants, Ginny Barrett and her three children, Genevieve, Roman and Sabine came to Whole Foods to pick up the medals. Barrett says the best part of being engaged with Marathon Kids is the community involvement and that’s what keeps her family coming back.

“It’s a healthy practice and the kids love it. At the final mile the parents usually are running around the track with the kids and it’s just exciting, “ said Barrett.

According to, 31 percent of children in the U.S are overweight or obese. Today’s ten-year-olds are the first generation expected to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.

“Children of today are facing a completely different situation that even you and I were in,” said Dyson. “We were told to go outside and go and play and it wasn’t a big deal. We didn’t have iPads and iPhones taking away time to go outside and play.”

Just last school year there were 290,347 Marathon Kids participants within 842 elementary schools nationwide. A total of 7.6 million miles were completed.

Erica Gordon, national programs director, has been a part of Marathon Kids for nearly two years. She is responsible for managing projects and implementing new programs, which includes budgeting strategy and evaluation.

Gordon was able to attend the Westside Elementary school visit and she, along with other representatives, was there to encourage the kids as they completed their miles.

“The best part of being involved is really seeing kids and parents get empowered to live healthier and happier lifestyles when maybe before they weren’t so sure how to do it or didn’t have the resources available it’s really exciting to watch that,” said Gordon.


UT Landmarks Draws Stare, Knowledge

UT Set to Unveil New Landmark

Story by Kate Orlowski and Bobby Blanchard. Video by Claire Hogan



There is something about a well-worn, aluminum canoe that invokes feelings of nostalgia or of one’s childhood, but dozens of canoes is a different story. That is exactly what Nancy Rubins’ ‘Monochrome for Austin,’ the latest addition to the Landmarks program, is.

UT Landmarks is a public art program at UT-Austin. The program is responsible for decorating the entire campus with visuals — many of which are sculpture, but some are more abstract. It is funded by a small percentage of the capital cost of new construction and major renovations.

Rubins, a Texas native, has always experimented when it came to art and feels comfortable making things out of anything from household appliances to airplane parts. The newly completed work of art is continually on display but a special opening party will take place on Thursday, March 5. Scholars say her art can be described as conceptual with a striking balance in both presence and grace.

Students have been inquisitively watching Rubins work come to life on the corner of Speedway and 24th Street in front of the Norman Hackerman Building. The artwork draws stares, pictures and contemplative head tilts as students and faculty scurry by on their way to and from class.

Monochrome For Austin: Thoughts and Observations from Claire Hogan on Vimeo.

A subliminal message, many may not be aware of, is the striking resemblance of the steel foliage to period warplanes. In fact many of the cantilevered canoes were manufactured by Grumman Corporation, a military producer of the jet planes and ammunition. It is that kind of thinking which Rubins seeks to instill in her viewers as they study a piece of her work.

Stainless steel lines and hardware hold the aluminum canoes together. ‘Monochrome for Austin’ seems to defy the laws of gravity as they are taught on the very campus it resides. The Lankmark piece ended up costing approximately $1.4 million to complete and install.

Andree Bober, the director of UT Landmarks, says the program does not just provide great sights on campus, but it also provides an educational value to students.

“The principal function that it serves is a resource for students and scholars of visual art, much the same way that laborite equipment is used by scientists,” Bober said. “What makes it very different from other type of resources is it isn’t locked around in classrooms or tucked away in libraries, it’s out in the public to be seen.”

Organizations like the Landmark Program rely heavily on funding to fuel their creative endeavors but volunteers are the real driving force behind the organization. Many patrons of the arts also like to give back by donating to support the causes they care about but volunteering takes patronage to the next level.

There are two primary volunteer opportunities: the Landmarks Docents and the Landmarks Preservation Guild. Volunteers are primarily students, especially of the Preservation Guild Program where they receive academic credit for completing the academic, yearlong program.

Docents contribute time, energy and ideas to make the program accessible to the university and visitors of campus. Docents contribute two to three hours per month to lead tours of the various Landmarks on campus for the public and private events as well as and attend meetings.

Members of the Preservation Guild are volunteer interns who spend their time keeping a watchful eye of the Landmarks in order to maintain the works in the collection. They devote time and energy to preserve works of public art so they may be enjoyed by future generations. They attend training sessions led by a conservator and create condition reports on the status of the art.

Nick Nobel, the Landmark’s External Affairs Coordinator, describes the art in the collection.

“Works in the Landmarks collection come via a long-term loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and commissions and purchases from world-renowned contemporary artists,” Nobel said. “[Volunteers can] see the artist’s work process, and attend special events with the artists.”


Some of the perks of being a volunteer are that in addition to being surrounded by beautiful and intriguing art all the time, you also have the opportunity to visit sites during the installation process. This is an exceptional opportunity for students interested in the arts and want to gain real world experience and connections in the art world.

If seeing the art in more than just passing by for class is something you are interested in, there are regular public docent tours on the first Sunday of every month as well as for special parties or individual class sessions. This is also where you can see the volunteers in action and find out if it is something you would be interested in as well.

Bober said the Landmarks program plans to continue to grow on campus.

“We’ll continue to engage students and the public in those works,” Bober said.

The Nancy Rubins Monochrome for Austin Celebration and Q&A will kick off at 5:30pm with a public Q&A with artist Nancy Rubins and scholar Nancy Princenthal in the Norman Hackerman Building Auditorium and conclude with a celebratory reception on the Norman Hackerman Building Patio beginning at 6:30pm.

Nancy_Rubins_Invite Invite By Katelyn Orlowski

Coding Success: How an Organization is Helping Students Succeed in Growing App Industry


By Chelsey Pena, Lazaro Hernandez and Lauren Lowe

Mobile applications, better known as apps, have become a large part of everyday life. From checking the news on Twitter to cashing a check with your bank, the variety of utilities that can be created for your phone are almost limitless.  Signs of mobile app development slowing down aren’t anywhere in sight.

A student-run Mobile App Development organization at the University of Texas’ computer science department is aware of the potential for mobile app development. MAD, as the organization is known, has made it part of their mission to offer free lessons to students interested in app development.

“If you look at the industry, there is huge demand for mobile applications that have a large user base because the company can use that,” MAD founder Sai Avala said. “Students are going out and pursuing it on their own because they have an idea. Applications are particularly relatable to people. Mobile phones took a fraction of the time to be popular and things are just speeding up.”

App Infograpgic title

Click on the image above to see the full infographic.


It’s true the mobile app industry is growing, there are currently more than two million apps in existence across a variety of different application outlets. To put the number in perspective, during the 2014 fiscal year Apple reported making $10 billion just on their iOS apps, which was more revenue than all Hollywood movies generated last year.  This is because the demand from consumers to have a specific tool on a phone continues to grow.

Students have begun to see the financial potential of app development. MAD, founded by computer science seniors Niko Lazaris and Avala just last year, has already grown to be one of the largest organizations in the computer science department with more than a hundred members. The organization offers courses everyday focusing on iOS, Android, and web app development.

The University of MAD, or uMAD, is a conference hosted by the organization that gives students a chance to learn more about mobile app development through industry professional developers. Last month, the conference saw more than a hundred students come out to the event. A few of the big name companies that made an appearance were BuzzFeed, HubSpot and RetailMeNot.

WATCH: Mobile App Development at UT


“We started this and expanded it because it was a common interest between us,” Lazaris said. “It’s picked up because mobile app developers are in demand now. We want to see our community be successful. We want to see them get jobs. The conference allows us to get as engaged as possible without power points, just hands on with the engineers.”

Despite classes being taught by students for students, the results speak for themselves. Many MAD members have gone on to create and release their own apps after taking classes from the organization.

UMAD developers

Mobile App Development (MAD) students work on their code during a beginner course on Android development.

“I joined the club about a year ago, and started coming to all of the meetings” said computer science student Tomas Rodriguez who now teaches MAD’s advanced Android class. “It’s about the time you put in. During the summer I created a World Cup app that a lot of people downloaded but has since been taken down, but it’s because of what I learned from this.”

MAD isn’t the only group catching on to the popularity of developing apps, UT’s curriculum is as well. This semester’s course schedule includes classes on Mobile Computing and Mobiles News App Design, a crossover course with both journalism and computer science students.

Professor Robert Quigley of UT’s journalism school, teaches the crossover course. He says that offering these kinds of classes to students allows them to collaborate and explore all aspects of the development process.

“To develop a complete mobile app from scratch, students have to pull from nearly everything they know, and then some,” Quigley said. “It’s not just coding – it is design, writing, critical thinking, teamwork and much more. I love the intersection of humanities and technology, and this class is designed to give the students experience in that space.”

In terms of the future of mobile apps, the industry does not show signs of slowing down production.

“Apps are here to stay,” Quigley said. “It will be interesting to see how they transition over to the wearable space. Will wearables just be notifications or are there bigger uses we haven’t thought of yet?”

Looking Back

The mobile app industry is so dominant today it’s hard to believe it was almost nonexistent less than a decade ago. Take a look at how the mobile app industry has evolved over the years with our interactive timeline.

Texas State Parks and Gems

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Interactive Map: VIEW HERE 

By: Andie Rogers, Scarlett Klein and Colleen Nelson

March 1, 2015

It’s no secret that Texas is known for its wide-open spaces and beautiful Hill Country, but there are so many other outdoor beauties that deserve credit for simply just being in the great state of Texas. Here is a list of 10 Texas natural treasures. (Distances reflect that of Austin, Texas)

1. McKinney Falls State Park – 9.7 miles

McKinney Falls is the closest park to downtown Austin. Located just 15 minutes outside the city, it offers an array of activities for families and outdoorsman. With camping, hiking, swimming, picnicking and fishing, this Texas parks will keep you entertained all weekend long.

2. Hamilton Pool Preserve – 28.7 miles


What better to way to escape the Texas heat than to submerge yourself into natural spring of Texas water? Located just 28.7 miles west of Austin, Hamilton Pool serves as a Texas summer destination. Hamilton Pool Preserve is known for its cool water and its picturesque environment, the site also offers a hiking tour that spans about a mile long and is available during the colder months, October through April.

Tip: Arrive early during warm summer days. Pool can only accommodate a limited number of guests and the waiting line gets lengthy as they only let people in as other people are leaving. The waiting can be between 3o minutes to a couple of hours.

3. Jacob’s Well Natural Area – 36.6 miles


Photo by: Andie Rogers

Jacob’s Well is an artisan spring being pushed naturally from the Trinity Aquifer. Located in Wimberley, Texas, roughly 36 miles south of Austin, Jacobs Well is known for its underwater cavern descending about 120 ft deep. Texas outdoors enthusiasts enjoy jumping off the nearby cliff and diving deep into the well.

Tip: Although the thrill of cliff diving into a well is one of the main attractions, please dive with caution. The opening of the well can be misleading and the jump can sometimes be a little short of missing the edges.

4. Longhorn Caverns State Park – 63.5 miles



Texas is known for its Hill Country, however, Texas is also home to many limestone caverns. Located 63.5 miles northwest of Austin, Longhorn Caverns offers tours down and through the caves and once a month the park hosts an overnight paranormal tour.

Tip: Tours take up to six hours and get pretty crowded during the weekends, reservations are encouraged.

5. Mother Neff State Park – 81.7 miles



From the Texas Parks and Wildlife website: “Along a scenic stretch of the Leon River southwest of Waco lies Mother Neff State Park, one of Texas’ earliest state parks. Isabella Neff donated the original six acres for the park in 1921. Since then, many folks have discovered what Mother Neff knew: this is a very special place.”

Tip: The Park offers a variety of things to do including camping, hiking, fishing and geocaching. There are also picnic pavilions available for rent.

6. Enchanted Rock State Park – 95.3 miles

This 130-metre high pink granite dome located 95.3 miles west of Austin, is the second highest rock of its kind. Along with its many trails and breath taking views, Enchanted Rock is a huge part of Texas history.

7. Lost Maples State Natural Area – 162 miles



Texas isn’t well known for having fall-like colors like East Coast states. But, if you’re looking for Texas’ own colorful fall foliage take a drive to Lost Maples. Located 162 miles southwest of Austin, during the fall months of October and November this Texas gem hosts hundreds of visitors who come to witness yet another beauty this great state has to offer.

8. Brazos Bend State Park – 173 miles



Brazos Bend is located about 173 miles south east of Austin, right outside Houston. The park offers hiking, fishing, camping, picnicking, biking and horseback riding. The park also has six easy accessible lakes for fisherman to choose from. Brazos Park is also home to wild alligators, so visitors are asked to pay respect to the their habitat and walk the grounds with caution.

9. Padre Island National Sea Area – 251 miles



Located along the 350-mile beach on the Gulf of Mexico, this nature reserve is home to the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles. Between April and mid-July, female turtles travel from all over the Atlantic Ocean to lay their eggs in the sand along the beach.

10. Devils River State Natural Area – 257 miles



Located roughly 257 miles west of Austin, Devils Rivers is the most ecologically intact river in the state of Texas. The state area is divided into two parts, the original 20,000-acre natural area now called Del Norte and the newly acquired 17,000-acre area called Big Satan. Devils River is known to be primitive and isolated with hardly any amenities and no landscaped playgrounds. Del Norte offers hiking, fishing, camping, horseback riding, mountain biking and swimming. However, Big Satan is not yet open to the public. (Texas Parks & Wildlife)